Another disappointing away performance (Sunday) for the Titans at a windy Ampthill
Taunton left a wet and windy Hyde Park early in the morning to head to Bedfordshire to take on 3rd placed Ampthill & District. On arrival the sun was shinning but when you headed on to the pitch a few minutes walk from the club house the fierce wind that whistled down the pitch from left to right was going to have a telling effect on the game, which it did.
The Titans started the game playing into the wind and had the worst of starts when a knock on into touch immediately put themselves under pressure. Ampthill dually applied that pressure and after the Titans struggled to get out off their own 22 Ampthill opened the scoring when the Titans were penalised just outside of the 22 meter line and up stepped Ampthill’s full back Clements-Hill and put over the kick making the score 3 – 0. From the kick off Ampthill put the ball back into the Titans 22 and once again the Titans tried to play their way out of their half as kicking wasn’t an option. Some good pressurised defence by Ampthill and some good work at the break down saw them turn the ball over and a create a well worked try in the corner for Clements-Hill which made the score 8 – 0 after 8 minutes.
This pattern continued for the next 10 minutes. Taunton tried as they might to get out of the own half but struggled with the pressure asserted by Ampthill and the fact that, as one kick did, if you put the ball in the air the wind would blow it back over their heads. After some pressure in their own 22 the Titans conceded 2 more trys via some well constructed forward drives making the score 18 – 0 after 19 minutes.
The Titans then managed to get into the Ampthill half for the first time in the game and after some cynical penalties conceded by Ampthill, Taunton kicked to touch and after a good driving lineout second row Ben Turner broke from the middle of the maul with the ball in his hand and galloped 10 meters to open the score for the Titans. The kick into the strong wind from wide out was missed by fly half Jamie Forrester.
10 minutes after that score the Titans lost centre Luke Plummer to a nasty little finger injury after making a good run. This meant a reshuffle with flanker Jamie Fleming moving into the backs as Paul Davis came on to the pitch to play in the back row.
This took a bit of the momentum out of the Titans play which Ampthill capitalised on with Clements-Hill going in for his second try of the game out wide. This was the final score of the half making the score at the turn around 23 – 5.
The Titans made another change at half time that saw prop Kieran Ball come on for George Cooper to make his debut for the club. The first 10 minutes was all Titans as they now had the advantage of the wind at their backs and Ampthill discovered how hard it was to get out of their own half.
Titans combined the forwards and backs well and released winger Jack Claydon who skipped around two tacklers and sped down the wing and outpaced the covering defence to score near the posts. Jamie Forrester kicked the conversion to make the score 23 – 12 with 30 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the Titans that was the last time they troubled the scorers as Ampthill showed the Titans how to play in to the wind by keeping the ball for long periods of play and not making as many mistakes as Taunton did in the first half. Titans stilled tried to play their way back in to the game but were guilty of playing to much rugby in the wrong areas of the pitch.
As the Titans were chasing the game Ampthill brought on scrum half Kevin Barratt who has Premiership experience who then controlled the game and kept them moving forward. As the Titans tired and forced the ball to try and get back in the game Ampthill capitalised and scored 3 trys with one converted making the final score a disappointing 40 – 12.
Titans are back home next weekend when they entertain Bishops Stortford and hope to keep their unbeaten home record in tact.